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Hail, InfoSpherian!


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You clearly liked this more than I did, but I corresponded with her after I attended. I was involved in ISEA reading proposals before the event and chairing a working group on piracy at the Pacific Rim New Media Summit that took place before Zero One began.

Here's what I said:


I'm writing as a librarian who has always been
involved in new technology while still seeing the
attraction of existing ones, and the projects I
supported while working at the Advanced Technology
Group at Apple were aimed at bridging that: preserving
oral histories, digitizing photo collections, American
Indian cultural preservation and revitalization. I
also hung out with self-proclaimed luddites and
technophobes, people very worried about the thrust of
technology as (1) too expensive (2) corrosive to
values/culture they embraced (3) too invasive, and so

While I understand the issues you were raising I think
much of the public just saw it as a dystopian
prediction about the future of access and libraries
and they thought, 'sure, so what else can you expect?'
or because they see the library as a
concept/service/place as irrelevant, did not really
care. So I guess I felt the performance reinforced
stereotypes about the library as a cold place and not
particularly helpful. Besides, everything is online,
right? I was at the Harvard map library in Cambridge
last month, and the reference librarian said that idea
is so common, whereas they have about 2% of their
collection digitized, most think it's all online.

Jenik answered in part:


But this does not more broadly address this issue of a dystopian 
narrative that offers nothing else...I can tell you that the piece 
was not meant to be a showcase for all the digitial initiatives going 
forward in the library, but rather a provocation to a public to 
reflect on the importance of what libraries & librariains have always 
stood for (and in this case those privacy protections are central), 
and consider what might be being lost in the interest or targetted 
searches/convenience/efficiency/speed and other values embedded in 
the logic of these technologies. As a performance geared toward a 
general audience, perhaps booklovers might be the broadest term of 
the desired audience), it was not meant to solve these problems (not 
art's job) but to pull out the strings on certain directions and then 
pause them - to add to a sense of urgency in the public about what 
all is being lost and get people interested in exploring further how 
these changes are coming about & what is at stake. Indeed, another 
victim of the lack of personnel I fear was that a flyer pointing 
people to activism around issues of net neutrality and digital 
commons was not sufficiently accessible.